“To be honest with you,” Good Charlotte bassist Paul Thomas says, “just getting back to your country means the world to me. We’re playing this Download Festival and I don’t know if I’m more excited about the show that we’re playing, or the bands that we’re playing with, or just being in Australia at that time of year. Download is such an iconic festival and such a blast. I will try to not drink too much, but no promises there.”
Good Charlotte are one of those bands with a few generations of fans, and Aussie audiences in particular seem to have the same affection for the lads as the band has for us. So why do Aussies click with Good Charlotte so much? Even going back to their first club tour here, there was a real buzz. “If I knew the answer to that, maybe we’d make that connection happen in every territory,” Thomas laughs. “Maybe it’s because rock music is still a driving thing in your pop culture there. It was one of the first places we went to outside of America and maybe that’s a part of it, too. And I mean, the twins dated people from your country and were on TV there so maybe that’s part of it, too.”
Like any good music-geek chat, the conversation quickly veers to gear. “I play Lakland basses,” Thomas says. “It’s a small company out of Illinois and they make really good five-string basses. They’re a really amazing-sounding bass. I don’t have anything against Fender or Ernie Ball or anyone who makes basses in our genre, but I just felt I couldn’t find a good-sounding five-string bass until I came across the Lakland. So the first paycheck I got with Good Charlotte money, I went out and got a Lakland bass. And that was the only one I’ve ever paid for!”
Thomas plugs his bass into an Eden amp, just as he has since more or less the beginning. “The Lakland through Eden. I’ve been playing that Eden since the first album. I haven’t really changed my gear too much. It’s a solid setup. I play around with pedals and different DIs and stuff like that, but the meat and potatoes - the bass and the amp - are pretty much the same.” An Eden chorus pedal and SansAmp distortion are Thomas’ main pedals right now. “I also use Fulltone overdrives and an EHX Big Muff and Memory Man, but my pedalboard is the thing where I switch around whatever I play with. I’m thinking of switching to the Fractal pedalboard thing, but I haven’t heard a band live that uses all Fractals where I’m like, ‘Man, that sounded amazing,’ so I’m still on the fence. I’m not really sold on going completely digital. I like being able to make a new sound, instead of somebody else’s preset.”
So what about non-Good Charlotte stuff? When those cheques roll in, do they tend to go to gear that wouldn’t necessarily be at home at a Good Charlotte gig? “Oh absolutely,” Thomas says. “My house is filled with unnecessary purchases. Oh man. I have a hollow bass, I have a Gibson Thunderbird, I have a Fender P-Bass, I have all these different basses I use for recording. I have a bass made out of a cigar box with deer antlers for control knobs. I have a cello that I don’t even know how to play, but I just like to have it around. Maybe one day my kids will pick it up and learn to play.”
Thomas also has a bit of an inventor streak. “I’m trying to invent something in the music world,” he says. “I live in the Bay Area and I’ve got all these techy friends and I’m trying to put together a team. Y’know how there are wireless packs that have the receiver but then you have to have a cable from the pack to your ears? I’m trying to have a thing where it’s just Bluetooth in-ears where you just have the thing in your ears with no cables. Just wire-free entirely. But there are so many interference issues with having multiple people so we’re not there yet, but that’s what I’m trying to contribute to music in my older years.”
Youth Authority is out now via MDDN Records. Good Charlotte will perform as a part of Download Festival at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse on Saturday March 24. They will also play headline shows in Sydney and Brisbane with Issues and Falling In Reverse.